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Central Washington University

I-502 No Effect on CWU Marijuana Policy

December 4, 2012

ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- A state initiative that legalizes some use and possession of marijuana will not change policies that prohibit use or possession of marijuana on campuses of Central Washington University. In November, Washington voters approved Initiative 502, which allows individuals over the age of 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Although Washington law soon will remove state criminal and civil penalties for some use and possession of marijuana, CWU policy prohibits its use, possession, and distribution. University policy states, "Possession, use, or distribution of any controlled substance as defined by the laws of the United States or the State of Washington except as expressly permitted by law."  The federal Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana among Schedule 1 substances, the use and distribution of which are prohibited by federal law.

Under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, as a condition of receiving federal funds, universities must certify the adoption and implementation of programs to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. CWU would place at risk more than $93 million in federal funding if the university disregarded federal law and allowed the use of marijuana in university facilities, according to Dr. Sarah Swager, Dean of Student Success.

Swager said the university drug policy also supports a campus climate that promotes student success.

"We are here to help students grow--academically, personally and professionally. All of our policies are developed with student success as the highest priority," said Swager, adding that a key ingredient for student success is good health and a clear head.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has begun to establish the state rules for licensing and inspection marijuana.

For more information: Linda Schactler, Executive Director, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1384.